You’ll Never Guess Emirates’ Next US Destination

Filed Under: Emirates

Earlier today I posted about how Emirates announced they would be adding a second daily flight between Dubai and Seattle, as of July 7, 2015. The flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-200LR.

Emirates’ first flight to Seattle was added only a few years ago, and it will soon be Emirates’ only US route with twice daily flights (though JFK gets 4x daily flights). Some have suggested that the route was basically being added to shuttle Boeing parts between Seattle and Dubai, which wouldn’t surprise me.

Well, apparently that wasn’t Emirates’ only US route announcement today. Emirates also announced their newest US destination. Now, if you asked me a few hours ago what Emirates’ next US destination would be, I would have guessed Miami, Newark, or Atlanta, with near certainty.

Well, Emirates’ latest US destination will be Orlando, Florida. That’s right, Orlando.


Emirates has announced that they will commence daily Boeing 777-200LR flights between Dubai and Orlando as of September 1, 2015.

Emirates 777 business class

The route will operate with the following schedule:

EK219 Dubai to Orlando departing 3:50AM arriving 11:40AM
EK220 Orlando to Dubai departing 2:20PM arriving 12:30PM (+1 day)

Emirates’ 777-200LR features eight fully enclosed first class suites, 42 angled business class seats, and 216 economy class seats.

Emirates 777 first class

This route really caught me off guard. I assumed Emirates’ first flight to Florida would be to Miami (after all, Qatar Airways already flies there), but instead it’s to Orlando. This is also the first flight between Orlando and the Middle East since Saudia discontinued their Orlando flight in 2001.

Bottom line

Ultimately Emirates is only a semi-for-profit airline, so I’m sure they can “make it work” (whatever that means). It’s an interesting choice for sure, though.

I’d bet that Miami and Newark service will also be announced within the next week, since I’m sure the “big three” Middle Eastern airlines are more anxious to steal US market share than ever before.

What do you make of Emirates’ new Orlando to Dubai route?

(Tip of the hat to Mike)

  1. Hope they do Miami soon and have a good time for me to do a connection like MIA-DXB-TPE, that would be extremely convenient for me and many of my Taiwanese friends who study in Miami. I think EK wanted to do Orlando for the Middle Easterners to travel to the theme parks more easily?

  2. Orlando? What’s next, Kansas City? I know Disney is nearby but Orlando? Load factor in the 50’s?

  3. Yes! I can now fly Emirates from my home airport without having to connect. I’m excited for this

  4. Lucky, do you know when the flights will be posted??
    and is it a longer flight compared to jfk-dxb?

    hope they have introductory rates
    can’t wait!!!

  5. @ BACHA — It has already been loaded into the GDS. It’s about two hours longer than the flight out of JFK.

  6. Emirates doesn’t get picked where they want to fly. But Orlando itself is a hub too, do you know TAM fly Orlando? United have more flights outbound from Orlando than Miami?

  7. Asian’s Emirates – Korean Air also flies to many cities that are not hubs. In fact, that makes It becomes very easy for Korean Air becomes one of a few carrier in Asia have good coverages.

  8. Spending time in both Miami and Orlando, I am not surprised at all that MCO got it before MIA. Walt Disney World is notoriously filled with Arab families, who often come for extended periods. (If it was from Moscow, yeah, then I’d expect MIA to get service before MCO.)

    Lucky, as you probably know better than me, MCO can really handle the crowds. MIA, even with the recent construction, is a total PITA of an airport. Among Floridians, it’s kind of the “avoid at all costs” airport.

    What surprises me is your info that the flight is 2 hours longer than the one to JFK. Interesting. Looking at the globe, they appear almost identical to me.

  9. @Geoff, what do you mean by load factors in the 50s? Do you think MCO doesn’t get enough Pax to make a go of this? MCO (not FLL or MIA) is the largest airport in Florida by far.

  10. This is great as it will give USA flyers an opportunity to actually experience First Class

  11. @Joseph

    7751 miles from MCO – DXB
    6736 miles from JFK – DXB

    hence the additional flying time

  12. @Joseph. I meant no disrespect but how many pax will connect via MCO? Seriously? A poster above made a funny point about Emirates trying to make Easter Island a go. As you surely know MCO is a destination not a point to continue. I would argue ATL would be a tough fill for Emirates. They connect more pax than most airports on the planet. Hey, I hope it works for Orlando.

  13. MCO is not a small airport. Whenever I flew in or out of MCO on United it’s always served by mainline. It is unusual considering how much United likes to use RJs.

  14. War has begun! I think you will see plenty of announcements next few years, be damn to loading capacity, etc. I suspect that silent majority are quietly cheer for ME3 to push their battleships into US market.

  15. yes Disney but more importantly the amount of convention traffic. Convention traffic is huge, plus everyone brings their family to go see the rat

  16. Like Las Vegas, Orlando has a sizable population of tourism industry workers from places like SE Asia. So I could see Emirates picking up some of that business, maybe it is enough to be profitable when combined with the Disney crowd. Orlando also has its fair share of business conventions.

  17. This route makes sense if you think about it. For one thing, Orlando is a major US tourist destination due to Disney and a high number of visitors from all over the world. And if you really think about it, for those that live on the other side of the world in Asia, they would need to connect through Europe right now considering MCO has direct flights from London (BA/VS), Dublin (EI), Manchester (VS), Oslo (DY), and Frankfurt (LH an important one). Now what’s the best way to get from India to Orlando? A colleague of mine that lives in Southern India went from BLR – AUH – ORD – MCO. It was about 35 hours of travel. But this right here reduces it to BLR – DXB – MCO, cutting time big time and overall costs as well.

    One should not underestimate load factors if they don’t know the community in Orlando and the amount of traffic that goes from here to Asia. It’s not a small amount. One person said 50%…don’t be surprised if load factors are well above 70% and maybe even 80%. Ignore the fact that Orlando is not a “premium” destination, that’s why putting the 777-200LR makes sense as there’s a very good chance the number of FC seats purchased is going to be low. But the rest of the cabin? It will be higher than some people here are expecting. Not every new EK destination has 70% load factors, but EK is not going to be starting a route like this if they did not believe they could make some money from it.

  18. This doesn’t surprise me at all. During our past two trips to Maimi, large number of the hotel guests we met who were staying two different 5 star hotels were from the Middle East and they were in Miami for few days as a side trip from Orlando and Disney vacation.

  19. We are involved in the hospitality industry in Orlando and have seen an increase in business from the Middle East from basically 0 three years ago to about 5% now. MCO is also a decent connection point for Latin America (including South American oil economies). Not like Miami, but decent nonetheless. Very large convention facilities as well.

  20. @Geoff ATL is a transit point. Not a destination like MCO as you said. Orlando has a large number of international visitors, there is a reason why there are several European flights a day direct to MCO compared to other larger US cities. There is a growing Asian community in Central Florida and keep in mind that there are also going to be travelers from around the state that will drive to Orlando such as Tampa and Jacksonville. While people vacationing to Disney is probably a good reason for this, so is the fact that Orlando is a fast growing market for various industries and it has one of the largest convention centers in the country which sees a lot of traffic. The route is not what many people would have expected, but it makes sense.

  21. I dont think the writer understands exactly what Orlando has to offer. There are tons of things to do in Orlando especially for folks that have never been there- 4 huge theme parks, 5 huge malls . The rich Khaliji families love spending time and money in Orlando, arriving with empty suitcases, and leaving with full ones. Orlando is cheaper for shopping than Miami or many other places. Also if you are a conservative person do you want your kids seeing G strings in Miami or maybe something less risque in an Orlando resort pool. Also the weather is way better of course in Winter then going to the North east. There are tons of restaurants and notably less congestion traffic wise then large cities. The downside to Orlando is lack of public transport.

  22. From the perspective of those in the US, Orlando – Dubai may seem like an odd route. But from an outside-of-the-US perspective, it makes perfect sense. Disney is a HUGE destination (I mean, who in the world isn’t familiar with Disney?). My bet is that Orlando – Dubai will be a very profitable route.

  23. @ Geoff Can’t tell if you’re trolling? I don’t think they’re trying to get connecting passengers from the US. Rather, they are likely trying to get connecting passengers from all over the world to Orlando through THEIR hub in DXB. Orlando is a massive, global tourist destination because of Disney, and now pretty much anyone in the world can fly direct to Orlando on Emirates.

  24. Disney and Conventions!! For middle east and Asia this makes perfect sense to avoid the European connection. LH is the only carrier that flies from Europe to MCO from a decent hub, which means you always end up paying quite a premium taking the LH flight. And for load factors: LH is usually sold out in both First and Business on that route and economy is usually filled up with big tour groups. I commute regularly on the route and have never seen loads under the 80-85%. (and funny fact, did you realise that LH, on average, have 58 kids between 0-12 on each departure on this route?)

  25. One also has to take into account that a sizeable population of Indians live in Central Florida. This will be a one-step ride into India!

  26. Lucky,

    As an Orlando local I am not surprised at all for several reasons, some already listed above. I just admit I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly, given I was just thinking about it 2 weeks ago or so…

    I’ve been on Lufthansa’s MCO-FRA several times and a great % of people were heading to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. There are lots of Pakistani and Indian families in the area, for example, so that also makes sense given EK’s presence in the region.

    I always imagined if they would even fill a 777 daily, but then LH fills a 747 and Virgin has 5 daily 747s at times. I would imagine at least some pax would go on to places EK serves, given both times I’ve flown to DXB (EK through JFK and LH via FRA) there were others on the same route with me.

    Now the question is whether they will be able (and willing) to increase frequency or capacity…maybe MCO’s first A380 is not so far from reality, after all šŸ™‚

  27. Orlando? I know there are some theme parks nearby, but I don’t think load factors are gonna be that high. But the again, this is Emirates and they can announce service to Casper and still keep it flying.

  28. I was quite certain about Orlando being the next destination as lot of people in Middle East and Indian subcontinent visit Disney Parks and I think this route will be a huge success and Emirates may even end up with a double daily or may be an A380 service shortly..

  29. Actually, Emirates 777-200LR’s feature fully flat beds in Business class unlike their 777-300ER aircraft.

  30. Hi Lucky, I have been a loyal reader of your blog. Great job informing and entertaining your readers. I could go on and on about how you have changed my life. I wanted to report a problem: The RSS feed seems to be taken over by viruses lately. When I click on a feedblizt link it takes me to sites like and keeps on asking me to update or install Flash. I know this is a fake website. Do you know what’s going on? Private message me if you need details. Thanks!

  31. @ PM — Thanks for the heads up, and really sorry to hear about that. Reporting it to tech team now, and hopefully they can get it fixed.

  32. @ Joseph — I must be missing something. Isn’t it the same seat? In many cases the 777-300ERs are newer than the 777-200LRs.

  33. Thanks Lucky! Apologize in advance if it is my browser. I subscribe to several Boarding Area RSS feeds and only see this issue intermittently with your feed.

  34. Cannot wait for them to take over the US market and fly everywhere. Hope they also start a domestic airline to fly within the US. It is time for competition to arrive and shake the airline industry here. We are hostages of evil Delta and the copycat United and nobody knows what the future reserves for AA. Loyalty programs have been dismantled in the US and we pay a fortune to fly anywhere with any of the big 3 US airlines. Time to change and bring some competition!!!!

  35. again, your statement about EK being for semi-profit needs a proof. It would be great if you make statements based on facts rather speculations.

    Setting that aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if EK brings more traffic to Orlando from Asia due to its convenient transit/routing. So I would like to see whether this new route is hurting or helping the US economy. I would say EK will bring new customers rather than stealing current customers from US airlines to Orlando

  36. Plenty of engineers, medical personnel and researchers in the central Florida region come from Asia and north Africa. The mandatory pilgrimage alone would keep the route busy. MCO has a more relaxed customs/immigration processing than MIA. Taking profitable international pax away from DL and LH is icing on the cake. Besides the parks, the cruise industry is growing out of Port Canaveral.

  37. This is a very smart move.

    For people in South East Asia, MCO has been a hard airport to reach. Primarily because European airlines see this route as part of the leisure market, which makes for poor and uncomfortable connections (e.g. changing airports from LHR to LGW). The trip via the Pacific requires too many stops and changes.

    Essentially this move opens up Orlando to South East Asia, the Sub Continent, Middle East & Africa and to a marginal extent, the Far East. The very markets with increasing disposable incomes, young people and the middle classes.

    If EK prices this well, I should see a real upshot in interest, taking business away from Disneyland to Disney World. Florida’s tourism authority should thank Emirates for this!

  38. “I wonder if Emirates will fly to LAS one day. Seems their religion prohibit them doing that.”

    Too bad your stupidity doesn’t prevent you from making comments like that.

  39. @wwk5d, why do you bother engaging? Snuffing out the oxygen is the best way to wipe out stupid comments šŸ™‚

  40. The route actually makes a ton of sense. MIA sucks, big-time. MCO has Rickey Rat and is halfway between DAB & TPA, and has a ton of flights to most of the USA. Unlike MIA/JFK, you can often transfer between concourses without having to re-clear security. Also unlike MIA/JFK, the MCO facility itself is rather nice. Not on par with the Asian airports, but still something a 3rd world country would be proud of.

  41. @lucky @joseph, the 777-200LR does not have a fully lie-flat bed in business class. I just flew in that plane & cabin from DXB to ORD. It’s an angled seat/bed, just like in the photo in this post.

  42. @j ā€“ I think it is evident by now that Lucky does not much care about facts when he talks about Emirates, its profitability and balance sheet. He prefers to share and throw out falsehoods, allegations and conspiracy theories directly from the recent white paper commissioned out to lobbyists/PR by the Big US3 airlines.

    Lucky used to be quite balanced in his approach in weighing different positions between US3 & ME3 so his apparent and sudden change of heart that has resulted in a rather one sided position has surprised many of his readers.

    The fact that so many things in that white paper are easily refutable does not seem to bother Lucky. So one has to wonder why Lucky has suddenly, and rather religiously, taken the US3 side on this against the ME3 instead of having a more balanced approach to issues like he used to.

  43. @lucky @pm – i experience the same thing about 1/3 of the time i visit your blog. This only happens when visiting this page and only on my home computer when using google chrome. Have not gotten this when viewing other sites and not on my work computer or when using internet explorer.

    thought it was just me, guess its not.

  44. @ j — Does Emirates operate an A380 to Dallas (which is rarely more than 50% full) for profit or ego?

  45. For non-Americans, it is a very big deal to arrive at the US airport that is the final destination, rather than a transit airport, because it takes 2 to 3 hours to clear US immigration, which means one’s luggage will be going round and round for 2 to 3 hours and may go missing, and one may miss the next connection which is at another terminal and involves taking airport bus/train etc.

    For this reason alone, most people from Asia prefer to visit the Disney in Los Angeles (where there are lots of flights from Asia to LAX), than the one in Orlando (where one would first have to spend >3 hours at JFK or EWR, hopinig that one will not miss the transit flight to MCO). But now, it is going to be MCO being the 1st and only stop in USA! Hooray!

  46. This route is like a highway bypass that goes around the congested downtown areas and takes people to their destinations in the eastern USA.

  47. If I were a native of the Middle East, I would expect myself to be facing more scrutiny at US airports than people from other parts of the world. I would try to minimize my inconvenience by landing at an airport, whose immigration staffs are familiar with “my type” i.e. just an typical family trying to take my children to Disney, than immigration staffs who are not familiar with the profile that I am presenting. That way, I would face less questioning, and in any case, even if I face secondary security questionings, I do not have a transit flight to miss. Therefore, a flight directly to Disney is very much welcomed than a transit through some other airport.

    Then again, I am not from the Middle East. Just my 2 cents worth of imagination šŸ™‚

  48. EQ could make this a wildly profitable route by selling full packages ( hotel plus air plus transfers) as Tourists love all in packages. As Emirates starts one stop service from India to the U.S. surely somebody is getting hurt?

  49. I donā€™t usually comment but I thought I could contribute my personal experience. I live in Orlando and I travelled to Indian Subcontinent with Emirates thru JFK at least 4 times in last 7 years. It is probably true that Disney world in Orlando and other theme parks but from my personal experience, Indian subcontinent and East Asian passengers drive the USA to Dubai route than Middle Eastern passengers. It does sound like most people are not aware of Orlando Demographic and the jobs. Orlando offers high number of technology job. Matter of fact the highest in the State of Florida for IT jobs. It attracts many IT professionals from Subcontinent. Also a sizable portion of people from South Asian lives in the area, mostly in South Orlando area. Miami does not have the same demographic. If you have travelled any of the Emirates flights, you would see more than 50% passenger from South Asian countries (Indian, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Srilanka, & Nepal). It could be more than that. My family travels with Emirates frequently and this seems to be the normal trend. Most people thinks Emirates serve US market for Middle Eastern passengers. It is in fact the Indian Subcontinent that supports the market. If anyone who ever traveled with any of their flights would tell you that.
    The reason it is not serving Miami or Atlanta that is because of Jet Blue. But I can be wrong.
    I strongly believe that Disney world is not the main reason why they are serving Orlando. There are sizable amount of people from Indian Subcontinent in Central from along i4 corridor that will support this service. In a typical emirates flights 50% from Indian Sub-continent, 15% from other Asian countries, 20% business traveler, 15% middle eastern countries.
    A new train service by All Board Florida is coming between the MCO to MIA. It starts later this year. Matter of the Orlando Airport is expanding new terminal to support the new station.

  50. I’ve been a silent reader of this blog. This is great news for us here in west Africa. It would be convenient to transit in dubai(our second home) and get to orlando directly.

  51. I wish Denver had better international flights besides the LH/BA flights that don’t do anyone any good as far as awards are concerned. We always waste time and points positioning as it is.

  52. Will be in Europe in October and have yet to get flight home. We were either going to return to Canada or Florida. Our last stop is the island of Malta and I know Emirates fly MLA – DXB but when I ask for that connection on Emirates it shows nothing. Plus if I act quick can I use my Alaska miles for first or business?

  53. Emirates flight EK 219 will depart Dubai International Terminal 3 (IATA code: DXB) at 03:50 hours local time and arrive at Orlando International Airport (IATA code: MCO) Terminal B at 11.40 hours local time, a flying time of 15hrs50mins. The return flight, EK 220 will depart Orlando International at 14:20 hours and arrive into Dubai at 12:30 the following day, a 14hr10min flight.

    From Emirates website so just short of DXB-LAX times

  54. @ Lucky – Do you know if mileage seats will open. I can’t find any business class or first class seats at all.. i checked various dates

    kindly advise

    Thank you!!

  55. Eager to see Miami !! will be a success loaded from all the latin expats ine UAE.. from Miami connection easier to Bogota panama, …

  56. I am very disappointed that Emirates did not pick Miami (instead Orlando). Miami is one of the biggest airports which can accomodate 777 airbus

  57. There is a lot of demand from many passengers in this area to have Emirate start service from Newark. I see in this post that the announcement was due sometime in March – April time frame this year, but disappointed that there is no announcement yet. Any further update on when Emirate is planning to start service from Newark?

  58. Lucky.. I think you have a typo in this article and surprised other folks didn’t see it..

    Dubai-Orlando is not +1-Day if it leaves past midnight local time.

  59. Even though this is an old topic, I feel compelled to leave a few remarks missed by others. First, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic only serve London Gatwick from MCO and there are few connecting flights at Gatwick (a few large and medium-sized destinations in Europe and North Africa). It seems like BA mainly uses Gatwick for holiday destinations in the Americas and Mediterranean region. Virgin only serves North American destinations from Gatwick, so there’s no onwards connections. Try many of the popular websites to buy air travel and I don’t think any of them, or only a few, sell tickets that involve a transfer between Gatwick and Heathrow (which takes 3+ hours). So basically, the only airline to provide connecting flights via Europe to the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa is Lufthansa via Frankfurt. Miami is a three-hour drive from Orlando/Central Florida, so it’s not a great option to drive to MIA and leave your car parked during your trip.

    A few factors overlooked are that: MCO is a hub of Emirate’s partner JetBlue (onwards connections), Qatar Airways started service to MIA in 2014 (so there may not have been enough of or too crowded a market [=lower profit margins] for Emirates at MIA), and MCO serves the entire Central Florida region (people will drive an hour from the Atlantic coast [Melbourne, Cocoa, Titusville, Daytona Beach] and the Tampa Bay area). There are about 8 million people that live within about 1.5 hours of MCO. There’s the theme parks, of course, but also a lot of IT and engineering companies in Central Florida (especially along the Space Coast). And then there’s a decent-sized population of immigrants from South Asia and Southeast Asia. A lot of destinations in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa are now just two flights, instead of three, away from Central Florida. And for destinations already served by other airlines with just two flights, there’s now more competition.

    MCO statistics are available at:

    For calendar year 2015 (click “Passenger Statistics by Airline”>”Calendar year 2015″), there were 23,540 enplaned and 22,616 deplaned revenue pax and 1091/1194 non-revenue pax. From 1 September through 31 December is 122 days, so 122 flights. Emirates’ 777-200LR seats 266 passengers. The inaugural service was operated with a 491-pax A380 (Emirates’ website says their A380s come in 489 and 517 pax configurations, but several websites say that A6-EOM, which operated the inaugural flight is configured as F14 C76 Y401 [=491 pax]). So for outbound flights, the total capacity in 2015 was 32,677 seats ([121*266]+491) vs. 24,631 passengers (revenue and non-revenue), which is a 75.4% load factor (72.0% for only revenue pax). On inbound flights, there was the same 32,677 seats with 23,810 pax (revenue and non-revenue), which is a 72.9% load factor (69.2% for only revenue pax). And to be sure that’s not just because of inaugural discounted fares, for June Emirates had 6,208 enplaned and 6,121 deplaned revenue pax and 250 enplaned and 249 deplaned non-revenue pax with 7,980 total seat capacity each-way (30 days x 266). That’s 80.9% load capacity outbound (77.8% load capacity considering only revenue pax) and 79.8% load capacity inbound (76.7% load capacity considering only revenue pax). Looks like they’re doing well.

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